Single Blind vs. Double Blind

Inside Higher Ed reports that the American Economics Association is switching its journals’ editorial process from double blind to single blind peer review. They make several arguments for the change:

  • In the age of search engines, reviewers can easily and accurately guess the identity of authors.
  • Making both reviewers and authors anonymous imposes administrative burdens on editors.
  • Knowing the author will allow reviewers to assess bias and potential conflicts of interest.

On the other side of the debate, a 2008 study found that when the journal Behavioral Ecology added double blind peer review, the number of female, first-authored papers increased.

When I first started reviewing double blind manuscripts, I would often look for clues to the author’s identity. It was partly from curiosity and partly so I could evaluate the submission in light of the scholar’s other work. More recently, when I review double blind articles, it’s not worth the effort to track down the author, so I make judgments based on the manuscript itself. I doubt that it has made any difference in my ultimate recommendations, but it does save time.

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